But He Already Had His Chance, Right?

By Christopher C. Deaver

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My grandfather never accepted the gospel when he was alive. Why would it matter now?

young man with picture of grandfather

Illustration by Alberto Ruggieri

Growing up, I often heard my dad tell stories about his father. Dad had converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and been baptized when he was a young boy, and he always seemed to hold out the hope that his father, my grandfather, might join the Church. However, for whatever reason he and my grandfather didn’t get along well. And despite Dad’s many efforts to teach my grandfather, he never seemed all that interested.

Years later, when I was serving a full-time mission in Peru, my dad passed away after a sudden stroke. It was a difficult time for me, but knowing that we were sealed as a family in the temple brought me unspeakable peace and reassurance. When I returned home from my mission, I was excited to share the gospel with everyone in my extended family who was not a Church member—including my grandfather.

But sadly, as soon as I was back at college, my grandfather became ill and was on his deathbed. At that time, my grandmother heard him calling out to my Dad, “Tom, Tom, Tom!” as his spirit passed out of this world. Despite their disagreements in the past, my grandfather’s heart had turned to that of his son.

When I heard about his passing, though, I couldn’t help but be sad and frustrated that my grandfather hadn’t been baptized in this life. So when my sister suggested a year later that we go to the temple and do ordinances for my grandfather, I had mixed feelings. Why would it matter now if he hadn’t accepted it when it was right here for him?

But I prayed about doing my grandfather’s work in the temple, and my heart softened. I knew I needed to do it. When I went to the temple and was baptized for him, something happened to me in that font: I felt the Spirit come into my heart along with a sense of forgiveness and love that
I didn’t know I had for my grandfather. My heart was truly turned to him. I felt the truth of the promise that “he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (Doctrine and Covenants 2:2). It was real.

I don’t know whether or not my grandfather will accept the ordinances of the gospel, but I know that my heart was turned to his through the miracle of the Savior’s gospel.

The author lives in California, USA.